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Iran envoy warns of ‘severe’ impacts of unilateral sanctions on civilians

Iran's Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zahra Ershadi

A senior Iranian diplomat has warned of the severe consequences of sanctions on civilians, especially women and children, urging an end to unilateral sanctions on countries.

Speaking before a Tuesday UN Security Council meeting on the protection of civilians and ensuring their security and dignity in conflict, Iran’s Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Zahra Ershadi argued that lifting unilateral sanctions would enable the international community to give swift, timely and effective humanitarian responses.

Lifting the sanctions would ensure that critical assistance reaches those in need without unnecessary delays or limitations, she said, warning that illegal sanctions also hamper healthcare systems and humanitarian organizations, restricting access to medical supplies and impeding aid delivery.

Emphasizing that the warring parties to a conflict should refrain from attacking civilian objects such as food supplies, water sources, and hospitals, she said, “Under international humanitarian law, all parties to a conflict are required to ensure that civilians have access to essential goods and services, including food and medical care.”

She pointed to the “critical” situation in the Middle East, saying that terrorism, occupation, illegal unilateral acts, and the presence of illegal foreign forces continue to wreak havoc on civilians and their infrastructure.

The Iranian envoy noted that a UN document showed a concerning increase in civilian deaths, with at least 16,988 recorded across 12 conflicts, marking a 53 percent rise compared to the previous year.

The report also highlights the persistent and devastating effects of armed conflicts on food security which has caused continued hunger in many regions, she said.

“These alarming statistics underline the urgent need for concerted efforts to address the impact of armed conflicts on food security and protect civilian populations,” Ershadi added.

She emphasized that the Israeli regime is systematically violating the human rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories through constant oppressive, expansionist, and apartheid practices.

According to the UN report, she said, last year witnessed the highest number of Palestinian civilian fatalities in the West Bank since 2005.

The Iranian diplomat described the situation in Gaza as “deeply distressing” because it has effectively become the “world’s largest prison.”

She said the persistence of the US and EU unilateral sanctions on Syria and the plundering of its natural resources by illegal foreign forces have had a negative impact on the humanitarian situation in the country.

Ershadi added that people in Syria are facing exacerbating challenges impeding the Syrian government’s ability to provide essential services to those in need.

“The Israeli regime continues its aggressions and terrorist attacks against Syria’s sovereignty and territorial integrity with impunity and no repercussions from the international community,” she said.

Iran denounces such “heinous crimes” against civilian infrastructure and violation of international humanitarian law and the UN Charter, posing a severe threat to regional peace and stability.

The Iranian diplomat stressed the importance of prioritizing an end to the conflict, securing a political solution and scaling up humanitarian operations in order to provide effective civilian protection.

She went on to say that effective humanitarian operations for civilian protection “rely on international cooperation, proper and timely finance, and resource access; unfortunately, these elements are impeded by unilateral coercive measures.”

Ershadi urged all parties to armed conflicts to fully comply with their obligations under international law and to respect the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence in the provision of humanitarian assistance, including medical assistance.

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